Tuesday, 22 November 2011
The Irish language lobbyists were up in arms (again) last Friday, protesting outside the Irish parliament on Kildare Steet. “What was the subject of their ire this time?” I hear you cry.
Well, make sure you are sitting down for this one, as this is serious shit. It seems that - hang on ‘til I check the spelling - An Coimisinéir Teanga (The Irish Language Commissioner) is to be absorbed into the Office of the Ombudsman in Dublin.
Now. What do you think of that bombshell?
Never mind the Universal Social Charge, never mind 23% VAT, never mind the carbon tax, never mind the health cuts, never mind… you get the idea. This is the most shocking news since Lenihan announced the bank guarantee. It is catastrophic. We might as well all flee for the hills this very minute.
What is going to become of the country? What? An Coimisinéir Teanga was set up to enforce Eamon O’Cuiv’s (who has the blood of Dev himself coursing through his Gaelic veins) 2003 Official Languages Act.
An Coimisinéir Teanga does work that is tremendously important. For instance, if a Gaeilgeoir hobbyist notices that the letters making up “Guinness Brewery” on a Dublin tourist signpost are printed larger in English than in Gaelic, he/she can complain to An Coimisinéir Teanga. Or if the Gaelic translation of the words is not placed above the vernacular version. Then, Dublin City Council can tear down all the existing signs and replace them at considerable expense.
Or if a language hobbyist observes a bedraggled queue of people standing at a bus stop, looking for real-time information on when the next bus might arrive, he/she can complain to An Coimisinéir Teanga and have the signage delayed until they show the information as Gaeilge (first of course) and English alternately. It doesn't matter if this takes a decade or so.
A language hobbyist can also apply to An Coimisinéir Teanga on the subject of automated train announcements if he/she feels that Gaeilge is not being given enough prominence. Thus, we can all enjoy interminable bi-lingual (with Gaeilge first, of course) announcements from the minute we get on the train until we get off.
Or if a government or local authority document has not been printed as Gaeilge, our language hobbyist can get onto An Coimisinéir Teanga and make sure thousands fly off the presses. Even if not one is bought by the public.
An Coimisinéir Teanga fulfills a vital role in Irish life, and my heart goes out to its dynamic, visionary staff who will have to vacate their lovely shiny building in Spiddal, Galway, to share a crumbly premises in Dublin with Office of the Ombudsman time-servers.
There is no doubt about it. We are staring into the abyss.
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Posted by The Gombeen Man at Tuesday, November 22, 2011